MONTREAL, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI), announced today the promotion of Jim Vena to the position of CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer. Mongeau said: "I am pleased to welcome Jim Vena to CN's Leadership Team as our new chief operating officer. Jim has a wealth of railway experience and strong leadership skills. I am confident that he will help us drive our agenda of Operational and Service Excellence forward." Vena, 54, will be based in Montreal. Replacing him as senior vice-president, Southern Region in Homewood, Ill., will be Jeff Liepelt, 53, who is currently senior vice-president, Eastern Region. Vena said: "I am honoured to lead a very talented group of railroaders. CN is in many ways leading the railway industry with a strong customer focus. I look forward to helping the team continue to build momentum in delivering our bold agenda." Vena joined CN in 1977 as a brakeman in Jasper, Alta. He has held progressively responsible assignments in CN operations and marketing and led all three of CN's operating regions. Liepelt also started his railroading career as a brakeman when he joined the former Illinois Central Railroad (IC) in 1978, and has held positions of increasing responsibility at CN. The IC was acquired by CN in 1999. A replacement for Liepelt as leader of CN's Eastern Region will be named shortly. Finally, in the context of CN's leadership transition, Sameh Fahmy, senior vice-president, Engineering, Mechanical and Supply Management, 61, will retire from CN on March 31, 2013. The three functions under Fahmy's responsibility will report directly to Vena at that time. Mongeau said: "I want to thank Sameh for his loyal service, tireless energy and the significant value he contributed to CN over the 23 years he worked with us. I wish him the very best in the next phase of his life."